Energy Efficiency is the highlight of 2013 Proxy

8113FDAD-9A9D-43A3-A4C1357663224613It has been a busy proxy this year.  Ceres reports that the investors working with the organization have filed 91 resolutions with 78 companies at this point. To compare, In February 2012, Ceres reported 86 resolutions filed with 69 companies. This year seems to be busier yet has different challenges for companies.

Ceres, a company that plays a big role in shareholders’ efforts, focused on risk management last year. In 2013, they’re focusing on energy efficiency and clean energy strategies. “The world’s largest companies recognize that clean, efficient energy use makes good business sense,” said Mindy Lubber, President, Ceres. “Shareholders are encouraging these companies to adopt clean energy strategies so that they can capture short-term benefits and mitigate long-term risks.”

This series of shareholder filings follows a recent report by Ceres, Calvert Investments, and WWF showing that 60% of companies within the combined Fortune 100 and Global 100 have set a renewable energy goal, a greenhouse gas reduction goal or both.

Resolutions were filed by the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), Calvert Investments, Green Century Capital Management, New York City Office of the Comptroller and Presbyterian Church USA with 13 companies—CF Industries, Citrix Systems, Dun & Bradstreet, Electronic Arts, Equity Residential, Fiserv, Kimco Realty Corporation, IBM, Public Storage, Rockwood Holdings, Roper Industries, SL Green Realty and Walter Energy.

 

“Energy use is a key concern for many firms in the IT sector. As investors, we ask that companies set clear, quantifiable goals and report on progress in order to boost efficiency, reduce emissions and limit other environmental impacts,” said Leslie Samuelrich, Green Century Capital Management, lead filer of the IBM resolution. “After the hottest year on record in the United States, we are pleased to see IBM commit to a rigorous approach to sourcing clean energy, which will help to reduce its greenhouse emissions.”

“For large energy users like IT firms, inefficiency can be costly to shareholders. Investing in efficiency is an excellent option for many companies, with internal rates of return often approaching 20 percent or more,” said Brian Rice, Portfolio Manager at CalSTRS. “These resolutions are aimed at establishing clear goals for improving performance.”

CalSTRS filed an additional efficiency-focused resolution with Walter Energy, a mining firm.

This current trend is because of Ceres’ efforts, rather than investors’ agendas, who seem interested in “climate proofing” companies in many ways. We can expect an exciting proxy season with companies debating how sustainable their business needs to be.
NYC Comptroller John Liu said back in 2011, “Companies that continue the same outdated practices put both the environment and their shareholders at risk.”
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